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Seed Starting Basics


January 7, 2022

Starting your veggies from seed can be a fun and rewarding way to start the garden growing season. And by using a small dome growing station, it can be economical as well as space-saving so that seed starting your favorites doesn’t have to wait until late April or early May. In this blog, I’ll give a quick intro to the benefits of starting seeds using Hydrofarm Germination Station available at Wilco Stores.

Hydrofarm Germination Station with Heat Mat, Tray, 72 Cell Pack and 2 in. Dome CK64050

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Seed starting basics

The Germination Station comes with a 72-cell seed starting tray, a heat mat, and a 2” humidity dome to cover your starts. In the trial, I conducted at home (not scientific), I left the heat mat on 24/7 once I planted seeds. The heat mat proved to be an asset to early germination and promises to raise the soil temperature about 10 degrees or more depending upon conditions.

Hydrofarm Jump Start Digital Thermostat For Heat Mats

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Hydrofarm Vented Dome 7.5 in.

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Seed starting basics

Products Used

  • Hydrofarm 11” x 22”, 72-cell Germination Station

    Hydrofarm Germination Station with Heat Mat, Tray, 72 Cell Pack and 2 in. Dome CK64050

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  • Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Mix
    Contains plant food) 

    Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix 8 qt.

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  • RapiClip wood plant labels
    Note: these were nice to be able to see which seeds I had planted, but they are pretty large for fitting inside the seed pockets.

    Rapiclip Wood Plant Labels, 6-In., 24-Pk.

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  • Livingston Organic vegetable seeds
    Carrot, Radish, Broccoli

Seed starting basics

Planting

Initial planting of the Germination Station was done on February 17. I filled each cell with Miracle-Gro seed starting mix (about 3/4 full) and added water so that it was damp but not filling the bottom of the tray.

I then planted 2-3 seeds in each cell and covered with more Miracle-Gro and watered a final time. I planted 4 rows x 6 cells of Radish, 5 rows x 6 cells of Carrot, and 3 rows x 6 cells of Broccoli.

Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix 8 qt.

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Wilco 16-16-16 All Purpose Fertilizer

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Seed starting basics

Growing

I plugged in the heat mat and placed the mat and tray on top of a small table in a covered porch area outside. I left the heat mat on 24/7. Temperatures during growing dipped into the low 30’s most nights with winds averaging around 10mph.

I check the cells each day to make sure the soil stays damp and have watered 3 times Feb 17 through March 9.

The typical germination period for radishes is 3 to 4 days. Mine came out of the ground 8 days after planting in the Germination Station.

The typical germination period for Broccoli is 4 to 7 days. Mine showed themselves after 10 days in the Germination Station.

Carrots have the longest standard germination period (of these three veggies), 14 to 21 days. Mind started appearing at 15 days.

Note: Want to boost your “sunlight” for your seed starting projects? Try Sunblaster grow lamps to provide the light new starts need for healthy growth.

SunBlaster Universal T5 Light Stand

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SunBlaster T5 LED 6400K Lamp

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SunBlaster T5HO Nanotech Combo Light Kit and Reflector

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Seed starting basics

Control

To see what advantage the Germination Station gave me over simply planting in one of the raised garden beds I use each year for vegetables, I planted one row of all three seeds in a bed the same day (Feb 17). To date (March 9th) the only seeds that have come up from the ground so far are radishes (which are typically one of the earliest seeds to germinate; 3-4 days when soil maintains 40° or higher. The radish seeds sprung out of the ground in the raised bed 18 days after sewing. A full 10 days after the Germination Station radish seeds.

Seed starting basics

Conclusion

The Germination Station proved to provide a quicker start and better protection for fragile veggies and give an advantage for early starting when weather is too cold to plant in regular garden beds.

I liked that the Germination Station didn’t take much room, came with the heat mat (which I believe is probably the best part of the kit) and was easy and fun to care for and watch.

I plan to let the starts grow for two to three more weeks and then transplant to a raised bed. Hopefully, we’ll get to enjoy some early veggies before anything else in the garden gets planted. My appetite is anticipating the fresh goodness.

Seed Starting Basics Video


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